Blue Turtle Cruising

Snorkeling and diving the Dry Tortugas

Since our weather forecast for the beginning of the week continued to be perfectly calm, we decided to take advantage and get in as much diving and snorkeling as possible. Later in the week called for windy and choppy conditions which would be too rough to moor to a ball and dive. We brought along 6 dive tanks (2 for each of us) and decided to try diving half tanks so we could do more dives and see more.

Part of our daily diving ritual: Randy and Corey would take the dinghy to shore and paddle back in the yak
Part of our daily diving ritual: Randy and Corey would take the dinghy to shore to leave and paddle back in the yak
Corey captain's the Blue Turtle while Randy and I get the dive gear ready
Corey captain’s the Blue Turtle while Randy and I get the dive gear ready
Cruising away from Fort Jefferson to go diving
Cruising away from Fort Jefferson to go diving

Before we began our trip, we put all of our scuba gear in the marina’s pool to make sure everything worked properly. Last year, I had all kinds of equipment issues with my first stage and computer flooding. Even though we had everything serviced, things still seemed to fail. This year, we weren’t taking any chances and everything seemed to work. On our first dive in the Dry Tortugas, I get in the water and my BC begins to hiss and leak. I swim over to the swim platform so Randy (who was still on board) could take a look. As he was inspecting my BC, the inflator hose literally falls off. I guess it was old age or dry rot, but diving with my BC wasn’t going to happen. We decided that Randy and I would take turns diving with his gear. The upside to this, was that our air would last longer since only two of us would dive at a time.

Getting geared up for the 1st dive. Little did I know my BC would break :(
Getting geared up for the 1st dive. Little did I know my BC would break 🙁
My BC inflator hose completely broke off
My BC inflator hose completely broke off

On Sunday, our first full day, we decided to try out The Maze. This was a spot that we heard from other visitors last year who said it was a great dive. The depth is around 50-55 feet and is full of huge coral heads. I sat this one out and Randy and Corey dove it. They both said it was an awesome dive though the visibility wasn’t great.

After The Maze, we went to the Windjammer wreck near Loggerhead Key. Corey and I dove the wreck while Randy snorkeled above. Last year, we only snorkeled it because it was too rough to gear up with tanks to dive. The seas were much calmer this year and the visibility was excellent. This is a great wreck in about 20 ft of water with part of the wreck actually sticking out of the water. There’s a ton of fish and reef activity on this dive. There’s more on this dive/snorkel of the Windjammer wreck to come with photos and video.

Absolutely beautifully clear water!
Absolutely beautifully clear water on the Windjammer. The two black specks in the upper left are part of the bow of the wreck that protrude out of the water.

In the afternoon, we grabbed a ball at Little Africa which sits just off Loggerhead Key. This spot was an excellent snorkel as the visibility was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and it’s pretty shallow. We loved this snorkel spot so much we came back the next day. More on Loggerhead Key and Little Africa to come!

Corey and I snorkeling Little Africa
Corey and I snorkeling Little Africa

Monday, the seas were still calm, but there was a little swell. When we were moored at the reefs, we got hit in the beam with waves causing it to rock us which wasn’t bad for us, but I think Sophie was wishing she was a land dog. First up was Off Ramp, a shallow (20-25 ft) dive that Corey and I did. It was very pretty and the visibility was excellent.

After Off Ramp, we went to Davis Rock, which was less than  a mile away. Randy and Corey dove first, and came back to report that it was so awesome that I needed to dive it as well. So, Corey got to dive it a second time with me. The depth was about 50 ft and the visibility was like being in an aquarium. There was great structure and lot of fish including a couple large angel fish, a huge goliath grouper, and a couple small sharks.

We ended Monday with another snorkel of Little Africa. Photos + video Off Ramp and Davis Rock still to come!

On Tuesday, our great weather was still holding. We had planned to go diving, but we noticed Blue Turtle was listing to the port side. We’ve had listing issues before which usually has to do with our fuel tanks being full and not equalized. Randy didn’t want to take Blue Turtle to any dive sites just in case it were something more serious (it later turned out to be nothing). We decided to take a dinghy ride to the Windjammer to snorkel and after that, headed to Loggerhead Key. At Loggerhead Key, we had a quick lunch on the beach and then walked to the other side of the little island where we snorkeled Little Africa again.

The Sooty Terns always seemed to find a perch on someone's boat...in this case ours while we were out on the dinghy.
The Sooty Terns always seemed to find a perch on someone’s boat…in this case ours while we were out on the dinghy.

We had 3 full days of wonderful, flat-calm seas and we dove and snorkeled our hearts out. Each evening after sunset, Corey and I would download our photos and videos from our GoPro’s and we would have a slideshow of all the images before going to bed.

Corey caught several small Yellowtail Snapper that we blackened and grilled for dinner one evening.
Corey caught several small Yellowtail Snapper that we blackened and grilled for dinner one evening.
Corey also managed to hook into a large nurse shark
Corey also managed to hook into a large nurse shark
He got the shark most of the way in and then it broke loose.
He got the shark most of the way in and then it broke loose.
The nurse shark breaching the water
The nurse shark breaching the water
Fabulous sunsets were the norm those first few days
Fabulous sunsets were the norm those first few days
…until tomorrow's next adventure!
…until tomorrow’s next adventure!

4 thoughts on “Snorkeling and diving the Dry Tortugas”

  1. Looks so wonderful! Great Blog! I just texted Greg insisting that we buy a trawler soon. We’ve been thinking about it for a while. Probably within a couple years!

    Reply

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